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When innocent women are used in scams

by Keith Morrison, Dateline correspondent

One of the truly sad things people in our business encounter as we chase around to uncover the misdeeds of con artists is human collateral damage.  They tend to leave a lot of once innocent women in their wake.

Smart women, mind you.  Caring women. Women who almost universally feel incredibly foolish and used once the slippery criminal has gone off in search of new victims.

Matthew Cox used women, too.  Single mothers.  Young women disappointed in some way with their circumstances in life and looking for money, excitement, romance.  He saw them coming, did Matthew.  He'd romance each of them in remarkably similar ways, encourage them to slide into illegal behavior and, once he had them, use them as part of his scams.  Then he'd leave.

And we would meet them -- in prison, where they faced huge fines,years without their children, without their freedom, without the innocence that made them marks in the first place.
Hardcore conmen will use almost anyone to get what they want.. but it often seems to be women who pay the biggest price.

"Thief of Hearts" aired Dateline Sunday, 8 p.m. Read a post on the story from producer Shane Bishop, below. Click here for the transcript and video of the report, as well as links to Cox's art and an excerpt of his unpublished book.